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And he promised that, if Apollo would grant him his request, he would go barefoot to his temple, and bring rich gifts to it. He spent many days crying for the moon in this fashion, but no help came, and the gods only laughed at his pain. He had the grace to keep the cause of it to himself; but his brother, who knew it, and who loved him dearly, was greatly distressed by it, and resolved in his mind how he could remove it best. He could think of no way for long, but in the end he remembered about a great magician who lived at Orleans, and who had there done wonderful things by the power he possessed. He told Aurelius of this, and raised him to the seventh heaven of delight, as he felt sure that he would now be able to have the rocks charmed away. He and his brother at once set out for Orleans; and as they were coming near the city, they were met by the magician, who told them that he knew why they came. He took them home to his house, and showed them what he could do, - hunting scenes, battle-fields, tournaments, revels, were made to pass in succession before their wondering eyes, at his command; their admiration and confidence grew increasingly under his spell; and at last Aurelius asked what would be his price for charming away, for a day or two, “the Bretayne rocks from Gironde to the mouth of Seine.” He said he could not do it for less than a thousand pounds, and that he was by no means desirous to do it even for that, because it was so “strange” a thing to do. Aurelius at once agreed to give him the money, and said that he would bestow the whole world upon him, if he had it, for the successful performance of such a wonder. It was in the month of May that the Lady DOrigen had spoken to him about the removal of the rocks, but it was now near “Noel”—i.e., Christmas-time—in “The coldé frosty sesoun of Decembre. Phebus waxed old, and hewéd lyk latoun, That in his hoté declinaccioun Schon as the burnéd gold, with stremès brighte; But now in Capricorn adoun he lighte, Wher as he schon ful pale, I dar wel sayn, The bitter frostés with the sleet and rayn Destroyed hath the grene in every yerd. Janus sits by the fyre with double berd, And drynketh of his bugle horn the wyn;
Biforn him stont the braun of toskid swyn,
It was on a bleak winter day, therefore, that the magician came to Bretayne, and began at once to Weave his spell. The work was the most difficult he had ever been called upon to perform, but it would be much more difficult to tell how he accomplished it. He, no doubt, called into play his “tables Toletanes,” and his “centres,” and “proportional convenients,” and “lunar mansions,” and “the eighté spheres,” and “al his other gear.” “Such matters are beyond my ken,” said the Franklin, “and I can only tell
That through his magic, for a day or tway,
Aurelius could now go to Dorigen and say that he held her to what he called her promise. He did so, though “with dreadful herte and with ful humble chere.” He told her that she well knew what she had promised, and that he had come to remind her of it. “Not,” said he,
“Not that I chalenge eny thing of right .
She was utterly thunderstruck; the whole matter had passed completely out of her mind, and she had ceased to take any interest either in him or in his sentimental love affairs.
“He took his leve, and sche astoned stood;
Sche never wened to have come in such a trap.
She called to mind the many examples recorded in classic stories of noble wives who remained true to their vows and preferred death to dishonour, and she could see no other way than this out of the coil which had been wound around her. To add to her distress, her husband was away from home at the time, and she did not know what to do. When he returned, she told him all. He said—
Arviragus tenderly tried to comfort her; but, to his deep sorrow, he felt himself bound by the sickly sentimental ideas which were peculiar to the spurious chivalry of his day, and which insisted that every promise, once made, must be fulfilled, however foolish it might have been, for
“Troth is the highest thing that man may kepe.”
But he knew that at heart Aurelius was generous and kindly, in spite of the infatuated way in which, on this occasion, he had acted. He therefore resolved to send Dorigen to him, feeling certain that, when he saw the deep distress of the gentle creature, he would forego his foolish claims. She went to him, therefore, accompanied by one of her husband's squires and her maid—
And Arviragus had judged truly. For when Aurelius saw the torture under which Dorigen was suffering, his eyes were opened to his folly and his sin, and he said—
“Madame, say to your lord Arviragus,
Glad at heart, Lady Dorigen returned home and told her husband—
“And be ye siker, he was so in delight
“Arviragus and Dorigen his wyf